IsiXhosa Lexicography unit justifies its historical existence

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On 12 September 2017 the unit hosted a dictionary user-skills workshop to promote the culture of using dictionaries as pedagogic tools in teaching and learning. Such skill is needed in education in order to assist learners with cognition of concepts in their home language, especially in Maths and Science learning areas.


IsiXhosa National Lexicography Unit (XNLU), which was established as dictionary project of the University of Fort Hare in 1968 will be celebrating 50 years of existence in 2018, and it will continue to exist even beyond that.  The unit derive its mandate from Pan South African Language Act of 1997 to document,  preserve and give meaning to isiXhosa vocabulary for speakers of this language, but not to create a new language  for speech communities. The XNLU is doing so by producing different kinds of dictionaries i.e. comprehensive, monolingual and pedagogic dictionaries in isiXhosa and other official languages of the Eastern Cape.


 The XNLU is in partnership with Amathole West District of Education where 50 learners from GET and FET phase from this district took part on the workshop, accompanied by their 20 educators and four subject advisors. There were also 3 Master’s Degree students who are doing lexicography from Rhodes University to assist in the facilitation of the workshop. 

The Unit is not doing this on its own, it is in partnership with the Rhodes University, said Mr Wababa who is the director and editor-in-chief of the Unit. He also emphasized that they are working with various partners and speakers of the language including traditional leaders who are the custodians of the language and culture in our societies, and with the department of education as the main drivers of educational activities. The skills learnt are used to blend dictionary in various subjects like mathematics and science, etc.

This effort by lexicography unit is to assist schools to establish dictionary corners in their classes.

 All the learners who attended this workshop were given dictionaries as ambassadors of change in their schools. The sponsor of this workshop and many others done in the past is African Association for Lexicography (AFRILEX).